Haiti Needs Help, but It Doesn't Need Evangelizing

Haiti Needs Help, but It Doesn't Need Evangelizing

As I boarded my flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday morning, I was struck by something peculiar: There were almost no Haitians and at least five groups of white Americans in matching T-shirts. The back of one bright blue shirt read, “Al checher moun pou Jezi,” which means “Go look for people for Jesus” in Haitian Creole. It dawned on me that my plane was filled with evangelicals who were on their way to my mother country to preach Christianity.

At least 80 percent of Haiti identifies as Catholic and there are Protestants, such as Seventh-Day Adventists, in Haiti, too. On Sunday morning as we drove to the coast, the roads were flooded with adults and children dressed in their Sunday best, clutching Bibles and heading to church. Tap taps, the colorful buses that transport people in and around Port-au-Prince, often display religious slogans like “Christ Lives” and “God is love.” In a country like this, mission trips to Haiti to spread the word of Jesus seem self-serving, at best.

Haiti is no doubt compounded by political, environmental, and economic problems. But the way to help is not by bringing a Bible and talking religion to people who already go to church regularly but are worried about where their next meal is coming from. If churches are truly interested in helping Haiti, there are several ways to do so.

Deforestation has devastated much of Haiti. My father has made it his personal mission to remind the people living near my grandmother’s countryside home that for every tree they cut down, they should plant ten more. To combat hunger, religious people who travel to Haiti can teach kids how to plant vegetables and fruits and show them how to sustainably fish in the rivers and Caribbean Sea. Religious groups can donate money to schools, which in turn can educate the youth and turn them into the teachers, lawyers, and doctors that Haiti badly needs.

The list of ways to participate in the rebuilding and reconstruction in Haiti is endless. Unfortunately, spreading the word of evangelical Christianity doesn’t do much—except bring self-satisfaction to those invested in spreading their own beliefs.